Friday, September 09, 2011

Smartphones perking up the practice of neurology

Author: Amanda Kidd

Medical services and cures are going mobile, thanks to the application of smart phones. Applications, generally known as ‘apps’ are software which run on hand held devices. The potential characteristics of mobile apps have been employed in several aspects of medicines. These apps used in smart phones or other devices have a great potential and benefit in the field of neurology as they can give real-time information and help people suffering from neurologic problems. For instance, people who suffer from neurological problem like seizures have to keep track of the frequency, time, duration and even seizure activities. This becomes difficult because the person who suffers from seizures does not remember and it is not possible for parents or family member to be present with him/her every time he/she suffers from seizure. Due to this they are not able to provide the correct information to the neurologist. This lack of correct information does not let the neurologist to diagnose properly and decide on the best course of treatment. Doctors believe that in order to know the correct details of seizure it is desirable that you are there during the seizure (which is not possible).

The new developments related to neurology and mobile apps are:
This web site was created by Robert Moss. Robert Moss’s son Evan Moss use to suffer from epilepsy seizures and as his seizures became more frequent his parents were not able to record all the details regarding the seizures which were important to be shared with the doctors. The sole purpose of the web site was to be a medium to log seizures’ data and medications, so that it was convenient to be share with doctors. This was a personal initiative of a father for his son but soon it became quite powerful, comprehensive and very useful tool.

There are 4 sections in Seizure Tracker which needs to be filled:

1. Header: In this section the time and duration of the seizure needs to be mentioned. It also gives the option to upload a video of the seizure. This is very useful for the doctors as they can see the seizure happening in front of them and can determine the type of seizure the person is having.

2. Trigger section: This feature has been created to know the reasons why the seizure was triggered.

3. Event description section: Here the seizure needs to be described.

4. Post-event section: Here the condition after the seizure ends needs to be section.

When this information is tracked in such comprehensive manner communication to the doctor is easy, less time consuming and effective. SeizureTracker has been made exclusively accessible by making it compatible with ’smartphones’ so that it can be used as mobile app. This software is becoming very popular and more than 7000 users use it.

Mood 24/7 (
Adam Kaplin, M.D., Ph.D, Assistant Professor, in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology felt that there were devises and techniques to monitor blood pressure and sugar level but there was no application to measure and track mood, pain and dizziness. He was aware that technology like mobile phones is available with most people. So he developed a mobile app known as Mood 24/7, which is a mood tracking app. This application exchanges text messages with people and enquires about their mood at various time of the day. The response is then documented and used by the physician to take decisions related to treatment. This tool also lets you track data about exercise, nutrition, pain energy level, etc.

Speak It! and Lingraphica’s SmallTalk
For sensory impairment there are options like Lingraphica’s SmallTalk and Speak It. This application is used to convert images, pictures and text to speech.

iPhone app Color Identifier
This application is very helpful for people who find it difficult to differentiate and identify colors. People face their iPhone to any colored object and the app makes the phone speak the color.

Research application - Women with Epilepsy Pregnancy Outcomes and Deliveries trial (WEPOD)
These apps are also being used for research and clinical trials. This reduces a lot of cost on research. The WEPOD was a research program. In this trail the enrolled women were provided with device in which this app was loaded. The women recorded their menstruation, medication details/usage and also sexual activities. This data was then employed by researches to find the relation between fertility and antiepileptic medications. and HealthCentral
Emotional support is very crucial in dealing with neurological problems. There are online communities like and where people who want to communicate with people who are interested in cure for neurological problems come together. Along with providing emotional support, people here share among themselves ideas to manage neurological diseases. The huge amount of medical information thus gathered online is beneficial to doctor and patients as well as for researchers. These sites are also used by advertisers. This was the reason why well known pharmaceutical company UCB assisted PatientsLikeMe in initiating an epilepsy site.

It is quite evident that use of smartphones and various medical apps for neurology are very beneficial. These enable people to document, record and present the correct data to the neurologist who in turn uses this data to decide on the correct and apt treatment plan. People are also able to send videos of seizures, thus bridging the gap between them and the physicians. But it should be kept in mind that these apps are just tools which assist the doctor in diagnosing and treating the patient, they cannot replace the doctor.

About the author:

Amanda Kidd is a blogger and writer who has a special inclination towards health and she writes for different blogs related to health, technology, parenting etc. Her blogs on tech help involves Mobile Applications related problems and new gadgets and technology upcoming in the market. She is crazy for mobiles and planning to buy a sony ericsson android.

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